The Overland Trail Museum has grown significantly since it began in 1936 as a project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Additions to the original stone building have transformed the museum into a showcase of natural history, natives and settlers.
What hasn’t changed is the museum’s mission: to preserve and share the rich history of the Overland Trail and the heritage of the early settlers who traveled it.
“Items we have here were items the first settlers brought with them and items donated by their families,” said museum curator Kay Rich.
The museum is home to a one-of-a-kind Rural Electrification of America exhibit in the Dave Hamil building, which also houses special temporary exhibits highlighting artifacts from the museum’s collection.
A collection of area historic buildings acquired over the years — some of them originals, some reproductions — form a “village” in the museum courtyard, including a church, one-room school and country store. The area’s agricultural heritage is reflected in the Karg Barn and displays of antique farm equipment, and the community’s connection to the railroad is evident with the restored ATSF caboose and boxcar depot.
Opened last year, the Propst Agriculture Center for Kids features hands-on exhibits intended to teach children about the dominant industry in Logan County. The highlight of the new ag center is Bella The Incredible Milking Cow, who shares facts about the dairy industry while allowing youngsters to try their hand at milking. Other exhibits feature ag-related activities like gathering eggs from a chicken coop, irrigation, horseback riding and more.
The High Plains Education Center features interactive exhibits on the people, geography and industries found in the area. The building also includes a large meeting room that can be rented for private functions and classroom space for children’s programs.
The Print Shop and Media Center houses an Intertype machine and antique printing press, among other things, and includes historical images and front pages from local newspapers going back nearly a century.
The museum hosts programs for all ages throughout the year, including monthly Family Fun Saturdays on the first Saturday of the month, children’s holiday programs, History Cafe for adults, and Christmas open houses in December.
For more information, call 970-522-3895, or visit the Overland Trail Museum Facebook page.